Say you know a guy who likes to kick his dog.
Every morning you see him out walking his dog and whenever the dog stops to sniff around the guy gives the poor mutt a swift kick in the ribs.
You tell your neighbors about him. One of the neighbors says, "Boy, you really don't like this guy, do you?"
"No, I don't," you say, "Who likes someone who's mean to his dog?"
Little time later you hear this guy who kicks his dog wants to open a kennel in the neighborhood. Board pets, groom them. Where he wants to put the kennel is zoned residential so he's asking the town board for a variance. You go to the town board meeting and stand up and say you don't think he should get the variance. It'd ruin the neighborhood, you say. Besides that, you add, this guy abuses animals.
Your neighbor, the one who observed how much you dislike the guy for kicking his dog, stands up and tells the town board not to pay any attention to what you say. Because you just dislike the guy.
Woman you know at work is always plotting something behind her colleagues' backs. Everybody knows this about her. She steals ideas, undermines people she doesn't like by gossiping about them. She's head of a department and she routinely raids other departments to steal away their best workers and then drives them out of the company because she's, well, evil. You are in charge of one of the departments she's screwed that way. You complain about her to a co-worker.
Co-worker observes, You hate her, don't you?
Inexplicably, though, one of the three brothers who own the company is nuts about her and wants to promote her, put her in charge of a whole new division. One of the other brothers has a different candidate in mind. The third brother is open to persuasion. He comes to you and asks your opinion.
You voice your concerns about this woman's competence and loyalties.
But instead of taking what you say to heart, he dismisses it out of hand. He says, "I heard you don't like her and this proves it. We can't discuss this if you're not going to be rational about it."
Ok. Every time you see the guy kick his dog you are furious. There are days you get so mad you rush out the door and start screaming at the guy to stop.
The backstabbing department head drives you crazy. Some nights after having spent the whole dealing with her and the problems she's created you have to stop off at a bar and have a drink. Two drinks. You rant and rave about her to the bartender. You go home and rant and rave some more to your family. You wake up in the middle of the night, your stomach in a knot, and you sign onto your computer and rant and rave about her on your blog.
Both these people make you crazy with rage sometimes.
But you are not crazy for getting angry at what they do. And you are not crazy for disliking them for what they do. It is not irrational for you to think that the guy who kicks dogs should not be allowed to open a business where he gets to kick other people's dogs. It is not irrational for you to think that a manager who is incompetent and puts her own ambitions ahead of what's good for the company will make a terrible division head.
You're a contractor. You get a job. New housing development. Twenty-five units. You start looking for sub-contractors. There's an electrical contractor wants the job of wiring the houses. Husband and wife outfit. You know them. You can't stand them. They go to your church. Smug, hypocritical, mean-spirited people, both of them. Made for each other. Their kids are pieces of work. You won't let your own kids near them.
What's more, they live ostentatious lifestyles, drive his and her matching Hummers, wear ugly clothes, and have painted their house pink and purple with lime green trim.
They both dye their hair too.
You can't stand them and you've let the world know it.
But on top of all this, they do substandard work. They cut corners, hire non-union workers off the books, they're being sued six ways to Sunday by people whose homes and businesses they've made fire traps with faulty wiring.
No way you're going to let them near your units.
But somehow they get past your secretary one day. She was out sick and a temp scheduled an appointment for them. You find yourself taking the meeting out of a mixture of inertia and politeness. They make their pitch. Tell you how they're going to do this job for you, quick and reasonable. But you know them and you know your business and you know right away they're proposing to do their usual substandard work in their usual shady and cheap way. You can't stand it. You blow your stack. You tell them what you think of them, their business, tell them what they can do with their paperwork. You make the wife cry.
Sunday comes around. You go to church. After the service you hang around for coffee and donuts. The pastor comes up to you, takes you aside, gives you one of those looks, the kind that say, My child, I need to talk to you about the state of your soul.
Pastor tells you he's heard about the meeting, about how you rejected the couple's bid out of hand, how you made the wife cry. Tells you a secret, just between you and him. The couple's hurting. Their business is failing. The IRS is auditing them. One of their kids is suffering from terrible depression. The husband's aging mother needs to go into a nursing home, she's got Alzheimer's.
Pastor asks, Couldn't you see your way to giving them the contract, for charity's sake?
No, you say, because, one. It'd be a stupid business move for you. And two, it wouldn't be charitable to the people who are going to move into homes with suspect wiring.
The pastor redoubles that look and says, Are you sure those are the only reasons?
You say, Aren't they enough?
And the pastor says, Are you sure your judgment isn't clouded by your irrational dislike of these people?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Liberals, Bush's proposed "health plan," and the Media's unshakeable belief in our irrational hatred of George W. Bush.
Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post:
If George W. Bush proposes something, it must be bad. Such is the knee-jerk state of partisan suspiciousness that when the president actually endorses a tax increase -- a tax increase that would primarily hit the well-off, no less -- Democrats still howl.
....Listening to Democratic reaction to Bush's new health insurance proposal, you get the sense that if Bush picked a plank right out of the Democratic platform -- if he introduced Hillarycare itself -- and stuck it in his State of the Union address, Democrats would churn out press releases denouncing it.
I would just like to point out, as if it hasn't been pointed out a thousand times and won't need to be pointed out a thousand more, that the reason Liberals don't like George W. Bush's plans is that they are bad plans that he makes worse by managing them incompetently and corruptly---in fact, incompetence and corruption are usually built into them as selling points to Republicans.
And the reason we don't like him is that he has a long history of pushing bad plans that he makes worse by managing them incompetently and corruptly.
We don't like people who kick dogs.
We don't like corporate executives who abuse employees and hurt their own companies.
We don't like dishonest electricians who do substandard work.
We don't like incompetence and corruption.
And we don't like Presidents who start unnecessary wars and lose them, who let cities drown, who bankrupt the Treasury and give away the store to their rich pals and cronies, who write legislation specifically designed to undermine existing government services, make things worse for the poor and the middle class, and give away the store to their rich pals and cronies.
Too bad for us.
We're irrational on the subject.
Thanks to Avedon Carol who has some other good links and sharp things to say in her post, Parsing the Speech.